Full Committee Oversight Hearing on the Implementation of
MAP-21's Project Delivery Provisions
September 18, 2013
We are here to conduct oversight on the bipartisan "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act" (MAP-21), which President Obama signed into law on July 6, 2012.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is charged with implementing the many policy improvements included in that landmark law, which is expected to save or create nearly 3 million jobs throughout all sectors of the economy. As the authorizing committee of jurisdiction we all have a great interest in ensuring that the transformational reforms included in MAP-21 are properly implemented. Senator Udall has expressed concerns and I promised him we would have this hearing to focus on project delivery.
During the development of MAP-21, one of the most common messages we heard was that transportation projects take too long to be completed. Delays in project completion drive up costs while delaying the benefits to travelers and the environment which will result from a more efficient transportation system.
To address these delays, MAP-21 included nearly two dozen provisions addressing project delivery while preserving public health and environmental protections.
It is important to note that transportation projects are delayed for a wide number of reasons, including lack of funding. MAP-21 includes policy reforms that should help all aspects of project delivery - from the planning process, to early consultation, to more efficient and innovative contracting and construction methods.
Examples of the key improvements include: accelerating federal agency decisions through the establishment of meaningful deadlines and the use of an effective issue resolution process, promoting early coordination between relevant agencies, encouraging reviews to be conducted concurrently, and allowing planning materials to be better integrated into the review process.
I believe that these provisions will have a meaningful impact to help deliver thoroughly reviewed transportation projects more quickly. In fact, we have already seen tangible benefits from projects that have utilized the MAP-21 provisions. For example, following the collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge in Washington State earlier this year, state officials were able to utilize one of the MAP-21 provisions, a new categorical exclusion for emergency repairs of roads and bridges damaged in a disaster, which allowed for a very fast repair and rebuilding of a permanent span across the Skagit River.
While some of MAP-21's project delivery provisions were implemented in short order, many of the other provisions require DOT to develop and issue new regulations. It is important that DOT stay focused on completing these rulemakings in order for the public to benefit from these reforms.
Today we will get an update on the status of the MAP-21 provisions, and I look forward to hearing from Administration witnesses, namely Deputy Secretary John Porcari, CEQ's Nancy Sutley, Fish and Wildlife Service's Dan Ashe, and Joe Comé from the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General.
I look forward to hearing testimony from all of our witnesses.